December 2006

My Dad Caught a Fish!

Author: Paul deVere

It was the first cool day in October. The sky was gray, the water a little choppy at the Boathouse dock on Skull Creek. But none of that mattered to the 30 “youth anglers” and 30 “adult anglers” who participated in the 11th annual “Fish With Friends”, an event for special needs children and adults. It also didn’t matter to the 17 charter boat captains who volunteer each year to take the anglers out on the water to see if these very special fishermen could haul in the best catch.

“These kids and the adults, they never get a chance to see Hilton Head from the water, and that’s the best way to see it,” said Captain Fuzzy Davis who, with his wife Kim, created the “Fish With Friends” outing 11 years ago. “We just wanted to give a little something back to the community,” Davis said.

For years, Fuzzy Davis was the man you saw if you had a question about fishing around Hilton Head Island. He is credited with, among other things, introducing tarpon fishing to the area. His shop at Palmetto Bay Marina was a favorite hangout for both fishermen and kids who wanted to learn about the sea. His articles about fishing the coastal waters were a popular feature in a number of publications. But “Fish With Friends” may bring him his greatest reward.

“We started it to honor my cousin, Gwynne Allison, who had multiple sclerosis. I could never get her out on the water because she was always bed-ridden. But she knew we were doing it,” Davis said. “She passed away two years ago, so now we do it in her memory. ”On the sleeves of the bright, lime-green T-shirts that all participants receive, it states: “Dedicated to the Memory of Gwynne.”

After a little over two hours on the water, the 17 charters returned to the dock with the happy anglers, ranging in age from 5 to 79. The return of the “fleet” made a dramatic picture. As the first boat tied up at the dock, the clouds began to part, ushering in a perfect blue sky and warming sun. Families lined the bulwark, awaiting the arrival of the anglers, waving and shouting their welcomes. The anglers who could waved and shouted back. One young man, his face beaming, walked up the dock’s ramp with his father and told everyone who would listen, with pure joy, “My Dad caught a fish! My Dad caught a fish!”

In fact several of the boats got lucky. “Today, on our boat, we caught three pretty nice sea trout,” said Davis. “Captain Ken Burke caught a 28-inch red fish. Fiesta caught a big red fish. Pole Cat caught a big red fish. Some big fish caught today,” Davis smiled.

The entire event is based on community support. Boathouse II restaurant arranged a generous luncheon buffet for all the anglers, their families and other participants. Members of the crew at Schilling Boathouse were dockside to help the charter captains and anglers. Tim Malcheck entertained everyone with his guitar, and Lollipop the Clown was a hit with the smaller children.

“We’ve just had tremendous support. When we got this thing together years ago, the Children’s Relief Fund was a big help. Over the years, a lot of local businesses and individuals continue to donate funds and time,” Davis said. “We work with PEP (Programs for Exceptional People), the schools, the hospital, to make sure we give as many people as possible a chance to get out on the water,” explained Davis.

What continues to make an impression on Davis is the captains. “All the captains have been so good over the years. They all call me to find out what the next date is. All of them say, they can’t wait until next year.”

Neither can the anglers.

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